Wednesday, April 08, 2009

The Passion of Christ (Part 6)

To start at the beginning of this series, click, here.

Jesus Before the Soldiers
By Doug Blanchard

Writes biblical scholar John Dominic Crossan:

My best historical reconstruction of what actually happened is that Jesus was arrested during the Passover festival and those closet to him fled for their own safety. I do not presume at all any high-level consultations between Caiaphas or Pilate about or with Jesus. They would no doubt have agreed before such a festival that fast and immediate action was to be taken against any disturbance and that some examples by crucifixion might be especially useful at the start. I doubt very much if Jewish police and Roman soldiery needed to go too far up the chain of command in handling a Galilean peasant like Jesus. It is hard for us to bring our imagination down low enough to see the casual brutality with which he was probably taken and executed.

- John Dominic Crossan
Jesus: A Revolutionary Biography
(Harper San Francisco, 1994, p.152.)


Jesus, Our Tortured Brother Today
By Sr. Dianna Ortiz, OSU

Jesus, our Tortured Brother,

In this world, so many are
forced to walk your path today —
the suffering and pain, the
humiliation, sense of betrayal
and abandonment,
for those with power, the
Romans of today, continue to
condemn others to modern crosses.

You said that what was done to the least of these
was done to you and so each day,
You are tortured anew.

Jesus, our Guardian of the Wounded and Tortured,
Bid us to look into the secret prisons — the unmarked
graves — the hearts and minds of the torture survivors,
Bid us to wipe the tears of the families of those whose
decapitated bodies were cast into the open sea,
Bid us to embrace the open wounds of the tortured.

Jesus, Guiding Spirit,
Teach us to be in solidarity with those who hang
from these crosses,
Call out to those who torture,
“Know the evil you have done and repent.”
Call out to the rest of us, “What meaning does love have
if you allow torture to continue unopposed?”

In the name of all the tortured of the world,
give us the strength, give us the courage,
give us the will to bring this horror to an end,
in the name of love, justice,
and the God of us all.


Sister Dianna Ortiz is a U.S Roman Catholic nun of the Ursuline order. While serving as a missionary in Guatemala in 1989, she was abducted by U.S.-backed right-wing forces and brutally tortured. Sister Ortiz chronicled her experience and recovery in her book (co-written with Patricia Davis) The Blindfold’s Eyes: My Journey from Torture to Truth. (For's review, click here.)

In early 1995 Sister Ortiz won $5 million in a U.S. civil court case against the former Minister of Defense of Guatemala — General Héctor Gramajo. In its ruling, the judiciary stated that “[Gramajo-Morales]...was aware of and supported widespread acts of brutality committed under his command resulting in thousands of civilian deaths. . . .” and further noted that Gramajo-Morales “devised . . . [and] directed . . . [an] indiscriminate campaign of terror against civilians.” Five years after bringing her U.S. Civil Suit against Gramajo-Morales, Sister Ortiz won a judgment against the State of Guatemala through the Inter American Court of Human Rights where she specified that Gen. Gramajo “made several [official] statements to the effect that Sister Ortiz’s injuries did not occur or were self-inflicted.”

Sister Ortiz is founder of the Torture Abolition and Survivors Support Coalition International (TASSC), the only organization in the United States founded by and for survivors of torture. TASSC’s current policy campaign is dedicated to repealing the Military Commissions Act of 2006, what the survivors of torture at TASSC call the US Torture Law.

NEXT: The Passion of Christ (Part 7)

Recommended Off-site Link:
The Red Cross Torture Report: What It Means - Mark Danner (New York Times, April 30, 2009).

Image 1: “Jesus Before the Soldiers” - Doug Blanchard (The Passion of Christ).
Image 2: “Jesus is Beaten” - Doug Blanchard (
The Passion of Christ).

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